Wednesday, October 13, 2010
ETSU picked second in both media, coaches' preseason polls
MACON, Ga. (Oct. 13, 2010) - ETSU has placed a trio of senior leaders on the Atlantic Sun preseason all-conference team, as Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), Micah Williams (Manchester) and Tommy Hubbard (Boston) were named to the squad released by the league offices on Wednesday.
As a team, the Buccaneers were picked to finish second by both the media and the coaches, with Lipscomb earning the top spot in both polls. ETSU, last season's General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Basketball Champion, made its ninth appearance overall and second-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament last season by beating Mercer in the A-Sun title game.
The Bucs return Williams, the MVP from last year's A-Sun championship, and Hubbard, an A-Sun second team pick in 2009-10, while also welcoming back Smith - who missed all but four games with an injury last season. In ETSU's 2008-09 championship season, Smith averaged 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. All three landed on the preseason All-Atlantic Sun squad, giving the ETSU the greatest representation on the team.
A year after sharing the regular-season crown, Lipscomb emerged as the favorite in both the Atlantic Sun preseason men's basketball coaches' poll and media poll. The Bisons senior All-American Adnan Hodzic garnered unanimous preseason Player of the Year honors.
Hodzic and fellow unanimous preseason All-Atlantic Sun performer Josh Slater look to lead the Bisons to a first NCAA appearance. Last season the pair represented the highest scoring teammates in the conference, averaging close to 40 points per game. Hodzic paced the league at 22.7 points per game, the highest average in the conference in 20 years in earning the Player of the Year award. He enters this season carrying the nation's longest active streak of scoring in double figures, at 57. Since the start of 2000, the streak ranks as the ninth-longest in nation.
Belmont, one of the league's four co-champions a season ago, placed third in both preseason polls. The Bruins return 11 letter winners and four starters from last year's 19-win team headlined by last year's Freshman of the Year, Ian Clark. In his inaugural season, the guard from Memphis, Tenn., led the Bruins in scoring 17 times, including nine times in their last 12 games. Clark landed on the preseason All-Atlantic Sun team, as did junior Mick Hedgepeth. As a sophomore, he doubled his scoring from his freshman year, to 11.6 points per game.
Jacksonville, Kennesaw State and Campbell took the fourth, fifth and sixth spots in both polls. Jacksonville and Campbell joined Lipscomb and Belmont in the league's first-ever four-way tie for the regular-season crown. Both the Dolphins and Camels must replace two of the league's most prolific scorers, Ben Smith and Jonathan Rodriguez but still placed a total of three on this season's preseason team. The Dolphins feature former Defensive Player of the Year Ayron Hardy while the Camels boast the league's reigning top defender, Junard Hartley and former Freshman of the Year, Lorne Merthie in the backcourt.
The Owls left a lasting impression at their first appearance at the General Shale Brick Basketball Championships as they knocked off top-seeded Lipscomb in the quarterfinals. Preseason All-Atlantic Sun guard Markeith Cummings, the nation's third most potent scorer among freshmen, paced the Owls and earned All-Tournament status to add to his Second Team and All-Freshman team awards.
The first variance between the two comes at the seventh and eighth slots as UNF held seventh from the coaches with Mercer claiming the spot among the media. Stetson and FGCU also split the ninth and 10th positions with Hatters taking the ninth in the coaches' poll and the Eagles in the media poll. A third sophomore, FGCU's Anthony Banks, rounds out the preseason All-Conference team. Banks ranked in the top 11 in both scoring and rebounding and finished third in field goal percentage. USC Upstate rounded out both polls.
The regular season opens on Friday, November 12 with nine schools in action facing historic programs like North Carolina, Kentucky and Indiana. The season concludes with the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Championships which for the second straight year will be held on the campus of Mercer University. The championship begins on Wednesday, March 2 and concludes on Saturday, March 5 with a 6 p.m. title game on ESPN2. Last season's title game between Mercer and ETSU featured one of only four title games in the country played in front of a sold out crowd on a campus site.